By Matters India Reporter
Patna: Student cultural activists of Patna Peace Mission staged the fourth round of street plays in three schools of Patna, capital of Bihar state, to promote communal harmony.
The plays, staged during May 10-11, highlighted the multi-religious heritage of India where world’s major religions have flourished over the centuries. Four major religions in the world were founded or evolved in India.
Though respect for each others’ religions and traditions has been a characteristic of Indian society, violence in the name of religion has erupted more frequently in the last three years due to religious nationalism under some Hindu fundamentalist forces, said Hasan Imam, cultural activist and playwright.
The nukkad natak (street play), Ek saadhe, sab sadhe (If one is controlled, all can be controlled) was written and directed by Imam, director of Prerana (inspiration) and Janwadi Sanskritik Morcha (People’s Cultural Front). It was staged by six members of Prerana, all college students.
The play highlighted that the freedom of India was won with the united efforts of men and women who belonged to different religions, cultures and languages. Today that hard won freedom is being destroyed by some politicians and fundamentalists who polarize people based on their religious identity, to promote only the majority religion, said Imam.
Introducing the theme, sarva dharma sama bhav (Equal respect to all religions), the ideal given by Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of India, Jesuit Father Jose Kalapura, organizer of the program and coordinator of Patna Peace Mission, quoted media reports to note that 822 communal riots occurred in India in 2017, an increase from the earlier years. He urged the students to hold on to this ideal to maintain the unity and integrity of India.
The students took a pledge to uphold the religious diversity and harmony of India, to celebrate the festivals of different religions, to respect each other’s religion in order to build a strong India.
The shows were put up in Patna’s Loyola High School, St. John’s Academy and St. Mary’s High School, for students of grades six to ten. Altogether some 3,000 students watched the plays in the two days.
Kiran Tripathi, teacher at Loyola High School, was all prise for the message and script of the play. All the words used in the play are very apt and convey pointed message in a short period of 20 minutes, said Kiran, a playwright and scholar herself.
Yusul Gazali, a ninth grader of Loyola School, appreciated the play saying, we leaarned how fundamentalists create communal riots among innocent children.
Devaditta, Vishwajit, Priya and Shashwat of the same school also appreciated the play and pledged to maintain communal harmony and brotherhood among students. Montfort Brother Sateesh Don, Principal of Loyola School, said he ensures inter-religious prayers during school assemblies to foster religious harmony.
Muskan Kumari, a girl student of St. Mary’s School, said she was unaware how people with vicious minds poison the innocent minds of children through anti-communal propaganda.
Abhishek Kumar of St. John’s Academy said students should learn more about the religion of others along with their own. Father John Britto, Principal of St. John’s Academy said the school chose a logo with symbols of nine world religions, to remind our students that all religions are to be respected and all religions are meant the followers to lead to the one God.
Sacred Heart Sister Reeta, principal of St. Mary’s School, said we encourage inspiring cultural activities in our school to communicate human values, beyond the text books.
The Patna Peace Mission, a forum for promoting communal harmony among students, is a project of the Jesuit Mission for Inter-religious Dialogue, said Father Kalapura.
The Peace Mission has staged 36 shows in 25 schools in Bihar, covering some 30,000 students since early last year, he added.